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Does Tretinoin (Retin-A) Cream Treat Melasma?

Tretinoin (Retin-A) is one of the world’s most popular acne treatments. For decades, it has been used in the treatment of acne. In fact, it has been called by some researchers a “mainstay” of acne treatment therapy.  Take this skincare routine quiz Buying Generic Tazarotene 0.05% Gel Online to see if Tazorac can be part of your skin care regimen.

Beyond its benefits as an acne treatment, tretinoin can also be a highly effective treatment for melasma, a skin condition characterized by gray-brown patches, usually symmetrical, that can develop on the face.

Below, we’ve explained how tretinoin works as a melasma treatment, as well as how you can use tretinoin to improve your melasma symptoms. 

We’ve also listed and explained the most common potential side effects of tretinoin as a melasma treatment.

How Does Tretinoin Work?

Tretinoin is a topical retinoid — a naturally-occurring vitamin A compound. It works by speeding up your skin cell turnover rate. 

In simple terms, tretinoin makes the outermost layer of your skin grow faster than it normally would, replacing old skin with new skin in less time.

This makes tretinoin a highly effective treatment for acne, since it helps to prevent dead skin cells from collecting inside your pores and causing blockages.

It also makes tretinoin an effective treatment for melasma. Tretinoin’s effects on your skin cell turnover process allow new skin cells to develop in areas affected by melasma, replacing old, hyperpigmented skin cells that cause the blotchy appearance of melasma.

In simple terms, 24 weeks of topical tretinoin usage resulted in noticeable lighter skin for women with melasma. 

How to Use Tretinoin to Treat Melasma

Tretinoin is a topical retinoid, making it easy to use. If you’re using tretinoin on its own, all you’ll need to do is clean and dry the area to which you’re applying it, then gently apply the tretinoin to the patches of your skin that are affected by melasma.

After you’ve applied the tretinoin, wash your hands thoroughly to remove any extra remaining tretinoin from your fingers.  Wait for at least 20 minutes before using any skincare products or cosmetics to make sure the tretinoin is fully absorbed into your skin.

If you’re using skincare cream that contains tretinoin and other active ingredients, such as Hers Acne or Hers Anti-Aging Cream, follow the instructions provided with the product to make sure you apply it properly.

Tretinoin is most effective when it’s applied shortly before bedtime. For the best results, try to apply tretinoin to any melasma-affected skin 30 minutes to one hour before you sleep to allow enough time for it to fully penetrate the skin.

Learn More About Treating Melasma

Treating melasma can be a serious challenge. From tretinoin to hydroquinone, kojic acid and more, serious cases of melasma can often require a variety of different treatments before you can get them under control.

Our guide to melasma explains how this common skin condition develops, as well as what you can do to treat and manage it. You can also learn more about the most effective treatments for melasma in our guides to hydroquinone for melasma and kojic acid to answer questions like “does hydroquinone permanently lighten skin”.


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